Today is Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. “Shrove” comes from the word “shrive,” which referred to the confession of sins that was customary in the European Middle Ages as a preparation for Lent. Over the centuries, different cultures have developed creative ways of celebrating the Shrove Tuesday–almost all involve festivities related to food and drink. These evolved as a way to use up “luxury” ingredients such as eggs and flour and sweets, things that likely might be given up in Lent.
Does your family or community celebrate Shrove Tuesday with any traditions or festivities? Or do you prepare for Lent and Ash Wednesday in a quieter, more reflective way? Will your forehead be marked with ashes tomorrow? Have you chosen any Lenten disciplines this year: fasting from gossip, or putting aside your loose change everyday to send to Haiti relief, or saying the Daily Office, or some other way of observing the traditional pillars of Lent–prayer, fasting, and almsgiving?
How are you preparing your heart for the journey of Lent this year?
This is adapted from a blog post, “Beads to Ashes,” that was originally published on February 16, 2010 on the Women of the ELCA blog.